Holme Bird Observatory
I arrived early at Holme and parked up on the NOA carpark, to be greeted by Grasshopper Warblers reeling. It was cold, really cold first thing this morning. I felt completely wrecked, with late blogging last night, editing pictures and then forcing myself to get out early this morning – my body felt like I had walked Blakeney Point there and back on shingle! Although cold, it was a beautiful, sunny day and later on, it got quite hot!
I had to return to Holme this morning, just in case the Alpine Accentor fancied dropping into one of the mist nets! Sophie had to pack up the nets shortly after Connor's mega find yesterday, to be able to manage all the twitchers and birders, that were then expected to turn up (which didn't quite happen). So, knowing that Sophie would have the mist nets up early this morning – well, I just had to be here! It would have been heartbreaking to hear 'MEGA Alpine Accentor ringed at HBO, will be released at......' on the pager, if you were not at Holme!!! A few other people had the same idea today.
Holme Beach opposite the NWT Firs.
There was a nice chorus of birds in the NOA carpark, besides the Grasshopper Warblers, I could hear Sedge, Reed Warblers, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and a Cuckoo calling. A Grey Heron was on the Broad Water and a Marsh Harrier was flying over Holme marsh. I walked up to the observatory where Sophie and Trevor G. were busy doing net rounds. They had caught the first Garden Warbler of the year, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and so on. I decided to walk the sueda area and dune ridge (what's left of it), which is east of Thornham Bank. This area of sueda is like a mini Blakeney Point! I flushed two Red-legged Partridges just below Thornham Bank. Birds seen in the sueda were: Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Reed Buntings and flushed one Grey Partridge, but nothing else exciting. It was getting hot now and I really wished I had less layers on! Trudged back through the dunes, more Meadow Pipits appeared and back onto the coastal footpath.
Yellow Wagtails at Holme Bird Observatory.
Back at the observatory, we all watched 18+ Barnacle Geese fly west and a Cuckoo flew over. Several Swallows flying through, along with a couple of Sand Martins and also House Martins. 3 Common Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier were spiralling, distantly in the blue skies and a Sparrowhawk zoomed through. Birds of the day were 3 beautiful Yellow Wagtails that flew over our heads and landed to feed on the short turfed slope, next to the observatory. I spent a while creeping up on them to get pictures – however after reeling off lots of shots, I discovered my camera was set on the 1.5m button instead of 3m (1.5m setting for close-up/macro) – not a happy bunny! A few shots later on the correct setting, something overhead startled the wagtails and off they went, bounding over Holme marsh. Oh well! They were beautiful to watch, you can never see too many Yellow Wagtails.
I walked round the back of the pines and crept round all the little paths hoping for something exciting, but nothing. Back at the NOA carpark, it was time to change into lighter trousers. Had a chat with Gary H. who was shocked at the lack of people that turned up yesterday and even more so that most people had left by early afternoon (as was I!). Met a very nice, new lady working behind the counter in the NWT visitor centre, who has excellent people skills – quite rare nowadays I find. Back at my car, it was time for lunch. Sat on my picnic blanket in the now gloriously hot sunshine. Got my pillows out and decided I needed a long snooze. It was wonderfully relaxing – listening to grasshopper warblers reeling as I snoozed. I had my pager in my hand – I wasn't going to miss anything..... !
Suddenly on the pager...... 'NORFOLK, LITTLE BUNTING, Holme Dunes NWT, c400yds west of The Firs, just north of access track at 2.29pm' – OMG!!! I was there.... it was round the corner from me! How lucky was that! Chucked stuff in car, locked car, grappled to put rucksack and camera on. Started walking, study pager again – hmmmm..... for some bizarre reason I read that it was probably in The Forestry, so I crossed the road and headed for there. Another birder who came walking fast past me at the carpark, decided to walk along the road – he wasn't sure and neither was I. Tried to phone Holme NWT for advice on exact location in case they knew, but no reply. Phoned a couple of people to find out that the finder was David Bradnum and that it was along the Firs Road. Suddenly I could see where I should be, speedily made my way across the Forestry to join a few others including David standing on the road. They informed me that I had just, JUST missed it. The birder who walked along the road, had just seen it! Hmmm...... well, you only have yourself to blame Penelope! The Little Bunting was only watched for a matter of minutes, first being seen on a small bush near the side of the road, then flew across the road into a bramble area and then continued across the marsh, as if towards the path that runs along the NWT Wader Pools. I walked back to the carpark and walked the path to the wader pools with another birder, hoping and praying the Little Bunting would appear on the path before me – no, nothing, nothing at all. Walked back along the path, several more birders had turned up now on the road, including Julian B, Mike S., Connor and Billy Rand and several local birders – all of us disappointed.
Wheatear in the The Forestry, Holme Dunes NWT.
Chiffchaff from the Dell Hide, Holme NOA.
I wasn't going to waste time looking for this bird – spent enough time doing that yesterday! So off I went to the NWT Forestry again to look for my own good bird. In the short turfed area I sat and watched the same (they looked like the same ones!) Male and Female Wheatears as I saw yesterday and a few Linnets. A Cuckoo was also calling, but little else was seen. Walked back to my car and nipped in the NWT V.C. to buy a bar of chocolate to console myself. Walked round the observatory again and sat in the Dell Hide watching plump Hedge Sparrows (without orange breasts!), Chaffinches, a rabbit and a single Chiffchaff. Returned to the carpark via the pines.
Red-legged Partridge, Magpie, Stock Dove and Wood Pigeons at Choseley Barns.
Corn Bunting at Choseley Barns.
Pied Wagtail at Choseley Barns.
Yellowhammer at Choseley Barns.
Collared Dove at Choseley Barns.
I had had it now, enough was enough on so little sleep. I decided to end the day lazily and drove up to Choseley Barns and sat in the car watching birds feeding on the concrete pad. This turned out to be the highlight of the day and although I didn't see the hoped for recent Turtle Dove, I had a massive selection of birds here and some unusual ones too! Birds that came down to feed were: Collared Dove, 3 Wood Pigeons, Stock Dove, 2 Magpies, 2 Red-legged Partridges, 2 Grey Partridges, 2 Oystercatchers!, 2 Magpies, 3 Corn Buntings, 4 Yellowhammers, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinches, 3 Pheasants, 2 Mallards, 2 Hedge Sparrows, Blackbird and 2 Chaffinches!!! Birds seen flying over: Swallows and a Sparrowhawk. A Hare appeared, only yards in front of me, just before I left at 8pm. I hadn't intended in staying here so long, but the variety of birds that kept appearing was intriguing. I had heard from another birder recently, that the reason the hedge had been ripped out (that the Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers used to sit on) is because the son of the farmer who has now taken over the farm (apparently) was fed-up with all the birders, so ripped it out! I just think that is so very sad. Unfortunately though, a hedge being ripped out is not going to stop us going there! This can't change either, as the official coastal footpath runs alongside the concrete area. In fact the hedge being ripped out, means that there are more birds to see on the ground now!
Hare at dusk, Choseley Barns.
SEE THE ALPINE ACCENTOR POST BELOW, TWO OF CONNOR'S PICTURES ADDED!